It would be an understatement to say that this year’s UFA market is special. First particularity of this UFA market is that there are the UFAs of two offseasons on it. There is also the fact that more teams than usual decided to let their players test the market because of the uncertainty of the lockout and because of the new cap on the payroll. In addition, there is the particular situation of the new CBA which forced some teams to get rid of some contracts like Philadelphia and Detroit did. So all in all, while there are usually no more than five big names on the market, this year some teams have 5 big UFA’s of their own, for a total which could fill more than a full lineup of All-Star UFAs and alot of other above-average players. However, there is a major mitigating factor, which is the new UFA rules which step into play after next season, when the age to become eligible to be a UFA willl be gradually decreased and players who will have played 8 seasons in the NHL will be eligible to become UFA no matter how old they are. Also this is a whole new situation for the agents, for the teams and for the players, Scott Niedermayer might just hit a wall if he thinks he will easily get his $7.8M!!!
As far as our beloved Habs are concerned, it is now well known that Bob Gainey would like to sign a top winger and a top defenseman, most likely on the right side. Bob Gainey has always had competitive teams and he will want the Habs to compete and will provide his coach the means to compete! However, Pierre Boivin has let it be known that they will be reasonable this season to be able to be more active next season (Vincent Lecavalier anyone?). What does that mean? Bob wants to spend, but Pierre tells us not to expect too much… It might be just a warning not to expect too much, because you know how we are, as the most passionate hockey fans, we always expect a lot.
However, I assume that Gainey will try to make some signings, and just for fun, I’ve underlined my predictions in red, nothing unexpected there…
This situation is EXCEPTIONAL and the next week should be VERY EXCITING. But as Mr. Boivin said, don’t expect too much!
ALL STAR UFA TEAM
All star benchwarmers: You’ve never seen so much quality warming the bench. Those named in italic are those I think might draw the biggest interest and who are the first call replacements on our all star team. And just to give you an idea, this is not the complete list, this is just the list of the most interesting UFAs .
Joe Nieuwendyk, Vincent Damphousse, Cliff Ronning, Yannic Perreault, Andrew Cassels, Jozef Stumpel
Adam Deadmarsh, Martin Lapointe, Anson Carter, Tony Amonte, John LeClair, Daren McCarty, Shawn McEachern, Valeri Bure, Teemu Selanne, Gary Roberts, Martin Straka, Steve Thomas, Trent Klatt, Andrew Brunette, Cory Stillman, Scott Young, Martin Gelinas, Bates Battaglia, Pavel Bure (retirement?)
Alexei Zhitnik, Brian Rafalski, Derian Hatcher, Mathieu Schneider, Al MacInnis, Chris Chelios, Teppo Numminen, Dan McGillis, Chris Therien, Don Sweeney, Bryan Marchment, Mike Rathje, Patrice Brisebois, Vladimir Malakhov (europe?)
Ron Tugnutt, Chris Osgood, Roman Turek, Curtis Joseph, Roman Cechmanek